Say hello to another Gloucestershire zero waste family!

Filed in Blog by on March 8, 2010 13 Comments
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The lovely Sian with her bin

The lovely Sian with her bin

We’ve started working with Sian and her family in Gloucester and very excited we are too.

Sian and her husband Chris have 4 beautiful boys aged 11, 9, 8 and 19 months. The littlest Prince is still in disposable nappies and this wonderful family, despite having a few challenges to face still want to reduce their landfill waste!

About Chris and Sian

Whilst running a busy household, Sian and Chris still find time for their hobbies.

Sian is an avid crafter; making cards, knitting and sewing. Like a good zero waster, Sian puts fabric scraps into a local textile bank and card scraps into cardboard recycling.

Chris is a model railway enthusiast and has been creative with reusing polystyrene packaging; he moulds it into hills and landscapes for his train sets – How cool is that!?

Food preferences

Sian et al eat meat and as they are on a limited budget they do not buy convenience food. This is great in terms of waste – cooking from scratch tends to produce less waste from packaging.

They occasionally buy takeaway as a rare treat. The boys take packed lunches to school every day and Chris often comes home for lunch. They all eat together in the evenings.

They create a little food waste each week from cooked food which has been stored in the ‘fridge and forgotten about. There is also the odd bit of fruit that has been forgotten about in the fruit bowl. Well we all know about that one, don’t we!?


Sian and Chris have very limited income with a budget of around £100 per week for food which means they tend to shop in supermarkets. They find prepackaged food cheaper. Having one child in disposable nappies bumps up the waste a lot, but Sian has health issues which means washable nappies are not an option at the moment. However, once her little one is ready for potty training, Sian feels she will be able to cope with washables.

Current waste

We popped over the day before bin day to have a rummage through Sian’s rubbish. Little did she know she would be getting on a pair of rubber gloves and hoisting everything out for me to look at! Her fortnightly rubbish weighed in at 12.5kgs and she currently puts out one wheelie bin of rubbish a fortnight. Her goal is to halve this by reducing her waste to one wheelie bin per month. For a family of six, this is a wonderful goal.

Current weekly kerbside collections

Food waste

thin cardboard (not corrugated)

Any type of plastic bottle (but not other plastic containers)



Glass and tins

Current fortnightly collections:

Alternates between garden waste and landfill

Local recycling facilities

clothes and textiles

thick cardboard

crisp packets

toothpaste tubes

Books and videos – through a local charity shop


After spending an hour with Sian, getting to know more about her motivation for reducing waste, her level of time and energy commitments, looking at her space for storing recyclates and what she wanted to achieve, we’ve given her the following ideas to put into practise over the next fortnight:

  • Separating waste. Keep nappy waste away from the rest of the waste to make weighing easier. Sian will start washing all her other waste so we can really see what is going in to her bin each fortnight.
  • Raising awareness. There were a few things Sian had in her bin which she knew could be recycled. So this fortnight will be all about noticing what she and her family throw away and diverting as much as possible from landfill.
  • Polythene. We told Sian about polythene and pointed out that she could recycle all types of polythene in the supermarket where she currently shops. She is going to set up a polythene receptacle in her recycling area and start collecting it.
  • Food diary. We’ve asked Sian to keep a food diary so we can identify exactly what she is buying. This means we might be able to come up with some naked alternatives to prepacked goods.
  • Compost heap. Currently Sian does not have a compost heap. We asked her to ask on Freecycle or get some pallets to make one.

We’ll be back in a fortnight, just before her next bin collection to see how things are doing. I’m really excited, however, to see a great post on her blog this week about how she handled takeaway packaging; it seems  you can indeed have a treat without the waste!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. Yay, well done Mrs G for getting out there and digging deep into Gloucestershire’s bins. And good luck Sian. You’re in very safe hands. I can’t wait to see how you get on. Hope you have loads of fun during the next couple of weeks. 🙂 x

  2. Jane says:

    Well done for lending a helping hand…or two! It can be a lot easier than trying to phone the local recycling and waste department for advice. Do keep those plastic bags away from the kids. My latest method for them is an IKEA holey plastic thingy attached to the wall. We had bags in bags before and then sausages for the different ones.

  3. Sian says:

    Thanks all so far there is so little in the bin that I am really amazed! removing the polythene has made a massive diference!

  4. Poppy says:

    Hi Sian (Poppy waves furiously!!)

    It’s really quite good fun when you get seriously stuck in 🙂

    Mrs G – we’re edging toward week 11!! Junior has taken to jumping up and down in the wheelie to make more space 😀 Typical boy – he loves it, but I think our collection crew may need a crow bar when we finally give in and put it out 😀

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi Sian and Chris!

    Mrs Green – you’re famous, and approved of, in Chesterfield!
    The word is spreading ……

  6. John Costigane says:

    Great to see Sian, and family, joining the trend supported by Mrs Green’s expert advice. Can it be nearly 2 years since Mrs Average introduced Mrs Green in similar fashion? The progress since then has been phenomenal, and ongoing.

    There are 2 reasons why the newcomers will be worth following from a personal viewpoint. I too came from a family of 4 boys (births from 1956 to 1963) and there is also an issue with fortnightly waste collections, a particular challenge for large families. Showing the actuality of the family’s Zero Waste attempt can help remove much of the disinformation around the 2-weekly system.

  7. Alyson says:

    hello Sian, hope you enjoy reducing yourself .I’ve been secetly reducing my household waste for a while.My family think I’m potty, But it’s nice to hear comments from my husband about the amount of waste the neighbours put out. We’re a big family too. Once upon a time there were 8 of us now there are 5.And now I’m making more of an effort not to put the bin out for collection this year.
    Actually, Poppy made me smile. I,too, am getting my son to jump up and down in the bin. we’re on our 7th week. Ooh that’s gone quick. I reckon I’ve got about another 4 weeks to go unless I get in and stomp about. Somebody might have to help me out, though. But it suddenly occurred to me last week, that as a family we are never going to be zero waste. Husband is a diabetic on a pump, so there’s lots of niggling little bits of plastic when it comes changing the canula.

  8. sandy says:

    Well done Mrs G, very nice of you to help, I am sure you will be able to be very helpful to this nice family.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    I’m so looking forward to catching up with Sian again soon. She’s supplying the odd update on her blog, so it’s well worth viewing: and I’ll be updating in a couple of weeks on the site, so we can all cheer Sian on!

    Poppy – your 11th week; that’s fantastic. Are you aiming for a particular target? 3 months is completely awesome – well done!

    And great to hear of your success too, Alyson. Lovely that your husband is starting to notice. Are you local by any chance? Would love to have the opportunity to have a rummage and help you out 🙂

  10. Alyson says:

    Aw… Thank you for your comment Mrs Green. I’m afraid I’m not local. we are from Tunbridge Wells in Kent and whilst we have some doorstep recycling I think it could be better. Also I don’t have a car and its a long walk to the recycling centre. In fact my husband who has a landrover says you’re not allowed to park at the bottom and walk up anymore. you’re not allowed to walk up there altogether. Helpful I thought.I wish we could have a mini weee place in town for things like toasters and kettles etc.Anyway on the plus side, I can take my own containers to the butchers. Yippee!

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Alyson: Hi Alyson, shame you are not more local; I would have loved to have had a nose in your bin! Still it sounds like you are doing as well as you can. We’re not supposed to walk around our centre too much either. Well done with the reusable containers; that’s excellent!

  12. Poppy says:

    @Mrs Green:

    I think we’ve now settled on 13 weeks as a nice round number! That will give us 4 collections a year.

    Next week after collection, we’ll give it a bit of a scrub to freshen it up and start all over again 😀

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Fantastic poppy; what a brilliant achievement!

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